Domestic Violence Defense
If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, call San Diego domestic violence attorney Alex Ozols today for a free consultation. At Ozols Law Firm, we have experience proven track record of successfully handling domestic violence cases. We understand the severity of being found guilty of domestic abuse, and will use our experience to achieve the best possible outcome.
San Diego criminal lawyer Alex Ozols knows that domestic violence cases are often based on weak evidence, and will exploit this weakness in the prosecution’s case to seek a dismissal or reduced sentence. Don’t wait for the prosecution to build their case against you, call us immediately so that we can help.
According to the San Diego Domestic Violence Council, in San Diego County there are over 16,000 cases of domestic violence reported to the police annually. In fact, San Diego County has the second highest number of reported cases in all of California. Given these domestic violence statistics, it’s no surprise that San Diego prosecutors always seek to hit you with the maximum penalties once they have decided to charge you with domestic violence. Law enforcement officials want to seen as being “tough” on crime, even if that comes at your expense.
To make matters worse, domestic abuse allegations are often made by an angry spouse who exaggerates the facts to the police. These false allegations of spousal or child abuse are often made to gain the upper hand in a child custody dispute or because of recently discovered infidelity. While that spouse might later regret having called the police, there’s nothing the alleged victim can do if the prosecutor decides to press charges.
Hire An Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
When facing domestic violence charges, you need a defense team with a proven track record to protect your freedom. Ozols Law Firm has handled all types of domestic violence cases in San Diego, including:
We know these allegations require a strong defense, and we use our experience to spot the flaws in the prosecution’s case against you.
From the moment you hire us, we will begin investigating your case to find exculpatory evidence, which could result in the prosecutor not even filing charges.
A brief overview of our approach includes:
- Seek to get the case dismissed
- Investigate your case
- Interview witnesses
- Search for exculpatory evidence
- File motions to suppress evidence
- Negotiate a favorable deal with the D.A.
- Go to trial (if necessary)
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction:
If found guilty of domestic violence, the punishment is severe and can include:
- Heavy fines
- Jail time
- Losing custody of your children , and
- Immigration consequences: being convicted of domestic violence could lead to deportation from the United States for non-U.S. citizen. (I.N.A. § 237.)
In short, a domestic violence conviction could impact almost every part of your life. That’s why it’s critical to have a qualified attorney begin working on your defense immediately.
Stages of a Domestic Violence Case
We think it is important to explain each step of a domestic violence case so that you can better understand the process and know that you are not alone.
The 911 Call
The 911 Call is important for so many reasons. It is the first complaint, the first piece of evidence, the first thing the police hear, and one of the most important pieces of evidence that will be used throughout the case. Not every domestic violence case has a 911 call but when they do it usually happens like this:
Generally two parties have been either drinking alcohol or arguing. One party decides to make a call. They make allegations that are sometimes true and sometimes false. According to the law, the police need to respond, and if there is a complaining witness at the scene, the police must make an arrest.
In our experience, the complaining witness often will embellish the situation or make claims that are not true to get back at their significant other. It is even quite common for the caller to call back after a period of time, say that they do not need help and even sometimes say that what they said was a lie. This call back often does not get them very far and the police will still make an arrest.
The 911 tape comes into play at trial if the testifying witness claims that they are going to be unavailable for trial. Often the domestic violence cases we deal with are ones where both spouses are getting along after the incident, they want to stay together and they want to move forward from this. The victim will often tell the DA they do not want to testify and they do not want to show up for trial.
The problem is, under certain circumstances pursuant to the Crawford case, those tapes may be admitted even if the witness does not show up. Having that tape used against our client can be very damaging if that is the only thing the jury hears.
Dissecting and investigating the 911 call is an important part of the process and you need to hire someone with experience in these types of cases to handle this job.
The Initial Investigation
The initial investigation starts with talking to our client, getting their side of the story and starting to build a defense. Often the alleged victim wants to talk to our legal team and discuss the scenario and we can do that, as long as it is within ethical boundaries. Having the alleged victim write a declaration can also be done. This can show the police or the district attorney that they do not intent to cooperate and also let the district attorney know that the parties intends to fight the case.
Other things can come into play early on in the investigation as well. This can include: analyzing any text messages between the two parties, looking at times that certain things happened, pictures of each of the parties, pictures of any injuries and hearing how the police officers treated our client.
Before The Case Is Filed
A lot of people will call our firm and say stuff like “well I know now there is nothing I can do after I have been arrested.” After hearing this we always tell them that there is actually a lot that can be done. An arrest alone does not mean that charges are going to be filed against you. Often in San Diego the case goes from the investigating police officer who was at the scene to a Detective. The Detective then reviews the case and makes a decision whether or not to send the case over to the DA’s office for prosecution. In certain cases it may be necessary to get a hold of the detective and present to them any exculpatory evidence, or in general terms any evidence that can help our case that was not in the police report and that they do not already know of.
If the case does get sent to the District Attorney’s office then that is another spot where we can use our skills to talk with them about the case. These types of cases will likely go to the Family Protection Unit and it will go to someone who is called an “issuing deputy.” The issuing deputy is the one who makes the decision on whether or not the case is filed. If one has not hired an attorney, then all the issuing deputy has to go on is the police report. They don’t know anything about our client, about their work history, their life, their possible military background or any other factors that could come into play. They also have never heard our client’s side of the story. Here, we can talk to the issuing deputy and give them all of the information, all sides of the story so that they can make a fair and thorough decision.
When the Case is filed
When a case is filed, contrary to popular belief, it is not the end of the world. All that this means is that it gives us a chance to start reading over the police report, poking holes in the investigation and doing everything we can to settle a case. The goal of a solid criminal defense attorney in San Diego is to always get an offer to work with first. This is something that our client can think about, and something that they can now know would be the worst-case scenario. After that is established, then it is time to evaluate the case, evaluate the evidence and think about the best possible strategy for a trial.
When the case is pending, this is time for another round of investigation. A review of the 911 call, a possible trip to the scene, a conversation with all necessary witnesses and a much deeper look into the evidence against us.
Ozols Law Firm recently dealt with a case where the alleged victim fell well getting out of the shower, she hit her eye on the sink and was bleeding. She called for her boyfriend to help and yelled “help I am bleeding”. The neighbors called the police and they showed up. When they got there, they saw the scene, saw the blood and told the boyfriend to get down on the ground, he was under arrest for domestic violence. When we first got this case, we were apprehensive just like everyone else. It sounded like a “story” that they had came up with.
We did what we could but the case was still filed. During the later investigation we went back to the apartment and looked at where the blood was. We listened to the 911 tape, we looked at texts between each other, looked at where their coffee was, how she could have hit her head. We looked at all of this and presented it to the prosecutor in the case. After long talks, the case was finally dismissed. An intense investigation after the case was filed was what won our client his freedom.
Some cases just cannot get resolved. Sometimes our firm and the prosecutor’s office just do not see eye to eye. At that point, we need to go to trial so one way or another our client can prove their innocence. A domestic violence trial is one that is more about facts and creditability and less about science. There are no real calculations or statistics; it is more about who the jury believes.
At Ozols Law Firm we do everything we can at trial to discredit the prosecution witnesses and bolster our witnesses’ trial testimony so that our side of the story is the only one that the jury is hearing. Domestic violence cases in San Diego have a reputation of being very hard to prove. It is a classic “he said, she said” where the jury hears two sides of the story and has to really think about who to believe. Remember, cases in criminal court need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. When you hear two sides of the story and each person is saying something different, it is very hard for a jury to be sure and therefore it is tough for them to always render a guilty verdict.
We get calls of people all the time calling us saying, “well my significant other doesn’t want to “press charges””. They will not cooperate with the DA – that means the case is dismissed right?
No, that is not the case. In California the prosecutor is the only one who can file charges. The police can’t, the victim can’t, no one else can. So just because the alleged victim is now saying this did not happen or is now saying they do not want to cooperate does not mean that your case is over. The prosecutors are seasoned prosecutors that have dealt with thousands of cases and they have seen it all. They will file these cases and pursue them no matter what the victims are saying. Just because someone is not going to cooperate or is now going back on what they said to police earlier does not mean that the case will be over.
Domestic Violence Laws
Corporal Injury on a Spouse – Penal Code 273.5
California Penal Code section 273.5(a) makes it illegal to inflict corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant if that injury results in a traumatic condition. This occurs when a person strikes or hits another person who is his or her intimate partner and it caused visible injury. Because San Diego police officers treat all domestic violence allegations seriously, even slight injuries may result in the alleged perpetrator being taken into custody.
If you are taken into custody, exercise your right to remain and silent and immediately call a domestic violence attorney. San Diego police officers are trained on how to get you to talk. Do not try to “explain” your side of the story to the police.
Under Penal Code § 273.5(b), P.C. § 273.5(a) applies if the alleged victim was on or more of the following:
- The offender’s spouse or former spouse,
- The offender’s former cohabitant or current cohabitant,
- The offender’s fiance or fiancee, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship, as defined in paragraph (10) of subdivision (f) of Section 243
- The mother or father of the offender’s child
Domestic Battery – Penal Code 243(e)(1)
Penal Code 243(e)(1) is one of the most common battery charges in San Diego. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor when one inflicts force on their intimate partner. Unlike corporal injury (see above), this offense does not need to have a visible injury and is often taken on the statements of one of the parties.
Given the lack of physical evidence, these types of cases are easily defendable. It often either turns into a “he said/she said,” or just a trial where the intimate partner who made the complaint does not want to testify. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a very high burden to meet when there is only an officer testifying about statements from the alleged victim. As your defense lawyer, Mr. Ozols will investigate all statements being used against you and fight to keep them out.
Many people fail to understand that the D.A.’s office generally doesn’t have the best case when dealing with domestic battery situations. However, the San Diego’s prosecutor’s office may still threaten you with going to trial in hopes that you will accept an unfavorable plea deal. Having an attorney that has experience in dealing with the San Diego District Attorney’s office gives you a distinct advantage.
Domestic Violence and Criminal Threats – Penal Code 422
Criminal threats under California Penal Code Section 422 is another possible charge that can be linked to a domestic violence situation. To be charged with making criminal threats one would have had to:
- Threatened someone either verbally, in writing, or by means of electronic communication device, and
- That person would reasonably have to be in fear, and
- It would have to be a threat that could actually be carried out as well, regardless if the person making the threat intended to carry it out.
This can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. PC 422 goes onto say that someone found guilty of this crime “shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.”
If charged as a felony, it is seen as a “strike” under the California three strikes laws. In short, the three strikes laws means that if you are convicted of three of these offenses you will have to spend life in prison as a mandatory sentence. If you are being charged with making felony criminal threats, speak with an attorney in our office immediately to discuss your best legal options.
Criminal Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases
Most people have heard of a restraining order or a temporary restraining order (“TRO”). A TRO is actually a civil case where it is filed and adjudicated in civil court. This is something that one party files in order to have the other party stay away from them. For more information on criminal protective orders, click here.
Call Us Today To Discuss Your Domestic Violence Case
If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, call Ozols Law Firm today at (619) 288-8357 or fill out our free case evaluation form to see how we can assist you during this difficult time. Having a qualified San Diego domestic violence lawyer on your side can greatly increase the chances of a positive outcome. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your criminal defense needs.
- California Penal Code 243(e)(1)
- California Penal Code 273.5
- Domestic Violence Overview on Wikipedia
- California Courts Domestic Violence Self-Help
- San Diego County Domestic Violence Information
Attorney Alex Ozols has the experience you need when facing domestic violence charges. He works tirelessly to secure a favorable plea for his clients, and is prepared to go to court if necessary. By hiring Alex as your criminal lawyer, you put an experienced attorney in your corner that will aggressively defend your rights.